Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Lobsters Anonymous

"...My name is The Awesome Lady, and I am a lobster."

Hands up, who caught the sun this Bank Holiday weekend?

Yep, I sure did. I was so cautious! Friday, Saturday and even Sunday were spent lolling under a parasol, sat at the garden table, laptop and cold orange juice in hand. I even chilled out with a magazine, and some jelly beans! No sun was caught on any part of my body. I didn't even use suncream.

Come Monday, we went on a little day trip out, the sun was shining, it was a teeny bit cold and breezy at first, but, I thought, there would be no chance of me burning, right?

Wrong. Last night I peeked at my forehead, and I was a nice shade of lobster.

After a shower, I then turned attention to my arms. Oh, man! I was fast becoming a tribute act of a crustacean.

It hasn't been uncomfortable, yet. Although I've been feeling a lot warmer than normal. Goodness knows why *headdesk*.

So, anyway, I thought I'd offer up some sympathy and advice for any of you lovely folk who may have inadvertently joined my Lobsters Anonymous club. Take a seat, and pass the after sun lotion, please. Preferably if it's been in the fridge beforehand.

Rule 1: Don't get caught out.

This sounds like really sarcastic advice now, but I'm serious. At the first sign of sun, you absolutely must cover up. Don't go for the route of wearing winter clothes like a long sleeved top and trousers, I don't mean that. Cropped trousers, and a loose fitting cotton top (like a sort of loose fitted t-shirt, or maybe a cheesecloth blouse, but make sure it's not sheer or see through in anyway!) should be ideal. Vest tops are nice, but you have more to risk burning. Burnt shoulders are nasty! Wear sandals if you like, but feet are the worst things you could possibly burn, considering they barely see the sun all year round. And it hurts, like hell. Use suncream if you do. Next two obvious accessories are a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses. Hats don't suit everyone, but when it's hot and sunny, who cares what you actually look like? It's sensible! Plus there are some nice hats this season. I still have last summer's straw trilby, and it shouts summer in big capital letters. This season is about floppy hats, obviously channeling the 1970s hippy trend, which are really cute, and of course, straw hats, like last year. Team those with the aforementioned crops and tee and you should be golden.

Next up - suncare. Of course, it's all down to personal preference, but I am so pale it's ridiculous, so I use the highest factor possible - SPF 50, or even 60 if I can lay my hands on it. Put it on before you go out, and at least every hour you're out in the sun. Cover it everywhere you're showing flesh. Legs, arms, face (although take care with that or you might look very pale) - everywhere! Sit in the shade often. And drink plenty of water.

Note: Always check the best before date on your suncream. They only tend to last for a year. On the bottle there should be an indicator - a little logo depicting an open pot with text such as 12M, 24M, 36M on it - this shows how long (in months) the product lasts for. So make a mental note of when you bought it (like me you could maybe even write a label of the month and year and stick it to the bottle), and before the sunny weather starts, replenish your supplies. Honestly. This will also prevent getting sunburn.


Rule 2: Take care of yourself out there.

I know, this is obvious, but as I slightly touched upon in Rule 1, staying in the shade is so much nicer than roasting in the sunshine. It's cooler, you can read books a lot easier and if, like me, you brought your laptop out with you, you can see the writing on screen a lot clearer. Really. If you do decide to sit in the shade, ensure that you're fully covered by it. And if you don't have shade anywhere, make it. Parasols, that random big umbrella you have in the boot of the car, anything. Just keep out of the sun as much as possible. It's also a good excuse to have an ice lolly at this point. You know, to keep the fluids going.

Rule 3: Oops.

So, you caught yourself out, huh? Don't fret.

Although, you probably are. You know you're burnt when:

1. You are feeling sweltering hot even when it's cooled down.
2. When you shiver, your skin tingles in a really unpleasant way.
3. You feel unusually tired.
4. Your skin feels very, very sore. And it's a lovely lobster pink.

Obviously, the first thing you should do is cool off, have a cold shower (it's a burn, that's why it's called sunburn and why you should treat it as such), and be careful when drying the affected area. Secondly, a few things I've learnt from experience are:

Calamine lotion: Fairly cheap from the chemist and mostly used for chickenpox (and the smell is a proper retro moment for me), this does help an awful lot - just blot some onto a cotton wool pad and cover the affected area carefully. Repeat for as often as possible.
Spray body lotions: Weird trick alert - when I badly caught the sun several years ago, and burnt my knees so bad I thought I was dying, I tried everything from natural yoghurt, to cold tea, and slices of tomato (neither worked, by the way) - in the end I used The Sanctuary, who sell an utterly fabulous body lotion spray that saved my life! Clicky here - I just had it lying around in my room, and somehow the mixture of body lotion and a light spray mist cleared up the stinging within a matter of days. Anything with a spray action works really well, it's probably because of the mist and how easily it absorbs into the skin, that it will moisturise and heal the layers of skin which are damaged. I have ran out of my Sanctuary spray, so instead I'm using Soap & Glory Girligo, which has the same effect. Unfortunately, water based toners don't work (I should know, I tried).
Normal moisturiser?! - I put some of my Liz Earle moisturiser on my forehead last night, and aside from feeling very sore at first, it then soothed my forehead and appeared to have cooled it right down. So thumbs up for Liz! In fact, anything with natural ingredients which aim to soothe the skin should help with the stinging and redness. Dream Cream from Lush is another skin saver. However I will note that this morning my forehead is beginning to peel, and I feel as if my forehead won't move. I'm currently doing my impression of Joey from Friends shouting "Smile! Frown! Smile... Frown!".

Quick storage tip: If you do use any creams or lotions, a nice tip is to put them in the fridge beforehand. But please tell your family or housemates beforehand, so that no one puts moisturiser on their toast or anything. Just saying.

Dressing the burn: Wear vest tops and loose fitting clothes to help the air reach the burn. If you do have to work while sunburnt and you can't really get away with wearing vests, wear something loose like a loose-ish blouse. Don't go for tight clothes. Just go loose and let your skin breathe.

And also - don't do it again! Once should be enough!

Take care of yourselves.

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